I see this comment SO many times. “I have to take insulin anyways, so my diet is not THAT important. I can eat what I want and cover it with insulin.”
When I hear it in people with Type 2, I shake my head. We should know better! Poor lifestyle choices are what got most of us in this place to begin with. Giving insulin to a population that still usually makes plenty of insulin just to cover poor lifestyle choices is beyond disturbing. Insulin in this population should be for those that have made every effort at living a healthy lifestyle and still need a little help achieving NORMAL blood sugar (Please see my article “Diabetic Normal Blood Sugar is NOT Normal Blood Sugar” HERE).
Sadly though, where I see this statement the most is from Type 1’s or, even more upsetting, from parents of Type 1 children. This is so sad. Yes, a person with Type 1 will need to take insulin for life. But many are using that fact as justification to eat whatever they want and just take insulin to cover it. Can we eat whatever we want and cover it with insulin? Sure, any person can eat whatever they want! However, your freedom of choice does not “free” you from the consequences of those choices. And if you are a parent of a Type 1, those choices will shape the life and future of your child.
Eating whatever you want will lead to:
- roller coaster blood sugars
- life threatening lows
- weight gain
- insulin resistance
- diabetes complications such as: heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, blindness, amputations, erectile dysfunction, and so much more.
Insulin does not give one a free pass. Unfortunately, this mentality has come about because that is what many parents of Type 1’s are taught at diagnosis. They are told to just let their child “live like any other “normal child” and eat what they want and cover with insulin.” However, most of those other “normal children,” at least in the United States, are destined for obesity and Type 2 diabetes with those same eating habits! This is not “normal,” it is pathological.
If you must take insulin, the goal is to take as little as possible. Although insulin is a normal biological hormone, excess insulin does not come without complications. I often hear that, “its just insulin. My body makes it anyways. I’m just replacing what my body doesn’t make.” Are we just replacing what our body doesn’t make? Or are we taking that and THEN SOME, to cover poor lifestyle choices common to the standard western diet?
Excess insulin leads to complications. Whether our bodies MAKE excess insulin (most Type 2) or we INJECT excess insulin (Type 1 – some Type 2), the result is the same. High insulin levels are very detrimental to the body. Ask any Type 2 who probably overproduced insulin for 10-20 years before diagnosis. Most Type 2’s AT DIAGNOSIS with just and A1c of 6.5% have a HOST of complications already from, not only high blood sugar levels, but high INSULIN levels.
Type 2’s and Type 1’s should have the same goal, to have as little need for insulin as possible. The fact that most Type 2’s can eliminate insulin use with a healthy lifestyle, and Type 1’s cannot, is irrelevant. Once again, whether we MAKE insulin or TAKE insulin, the goal is to need as little as possible to avoid complications.
If you are Type 2 and wish to possibly discontinue insulin use, please go to my pages “Insulin Resistance” HERE, “Type 2” HERE and “Low Carb For Diabetes” HERE. You might also want to read “Insulin – Friend or Foe” HERE.
Let me say in closing, I am NOT a parent of a Type 1 (just an insulin dependent dog). I CANNOT IMAGINE what you as parents go through. My heart goes out to you and I sincerely admire your efforts to manage your children’s diabetes in the best possible way. I know that when I hear comments like this one above, it is usually these parents just mimicking the poor advice that they have been given from people they trust. So, no placing of blame whatsoever.
In fact, here are some quotes from a Registered Dietitian on the web page of a very respected diabetes organization.
“We know now that it is okay for people with diabetes to substitute sugar-containing food for other carbohydrates as part of a balanced meal plan.”
“The important message is that with proper education and within the context of healthy eating, a person with diabetes can eat anything a person without diabetes eats.”
“Those on insulin can decide both what and how much to eat at a given meal, and can then adjust their insulin accordingly.”
So, I share your frustration when you were just following the advice of people whom you trusted to dispense accurate, useful dietary advice.
However, there comes a time when we have to recognize that the advice is bad and take it upon ourselves to act for the sake of our children. I work with MANY people with Type 1 and I fully understand its implications and complexities. The page I refer you to above has MANY resources to groups of other parents of Type 1’s who are successfully managing their children’s diabetes with a healthy low carb lifestyle and minimizing insulin use. It is absolutely the most responsible thing I can to to refer you to these parents who, in my opinion, are the REAL experts in managing Type 1. In fact, although I am the “educator”, I have been educated far more from these parents in the management of Type 1 than any textbook could have taught me. I urge you to take a look.